In 1985, 29 years on this date of Oct 11th, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins premiered. This movie holds a special place in my heart. I read some of the novels in the Destroyer series on which this movie was based. Loved the novels and was ecstatic that a movie was being made with part of the title: "... The Adventure Begins" hinting at sequels. Was not crazy that Joel Grey in makeup played Chiun (a Caucasian playing an Asian) ... perhaps Mako would've been a better choice, but because he's well-known, the producers may not be able to use him due to their budget.
The interaction between Fred Ward's Remo and Grey's Chiun was spot on IMO. The beauty of the novels was the back-and-forth dialogue between Remo and Chiun and some of the outrageous things Chiun would say. Sad that the movie didn't perform well at the box office. The Destroyer series of novels and this movie was not meant to be a hardcore James Bond type. Perhaps this movie failed in the backdrop of 1980's Hollywood action movies, where standard fare were the movies of macho/over-the-top Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Steven Seagal to name a few. With that said, if you have never seen this before, I wholeheartedly reco it!
FYI a failed attempt at a TV series did not last beyond the pilot. In case you missed it, I posted it here:
An NYPD cop is 'killed' in an accident. The death is faked, and he is inducted into the organization CURE, dedicated to preserving the constitution by working outside of it. Remo is to become the enforcement wing (assassin) of CURE, and learns an ancient Korean martial art from Chiun, the Master of Sinanju. Based on the popular pulp series "The Destroyer," by Richard Sapir and Warren Murphy.
- Ed Harris was considered for the role of Remo Williams.
- The producers were hoping to create a James Bond-style franchise by adapting The Destroyer novels and therefore hired Bond screenwriter Christopher Wood to pen the script. Bond director Guy Hamilton was hired to direct. Remo was considered a "blue collar James Bond".
- Even though Christopher Wood was credited with writing the screenplay, director Guy Hamilton admitted in an interview with American Cinematographer magazine that he rewrote the screenplay when he was hired to make the picture. He also came up with the Statue of Liberty chase when he saw the statue under construction and realized the potential of the location.
- Some of the actors who auditioned for the part of Remo Williams claimed to be proficient in the martial art of Sinanju, not realizing it was a fiction derived from the Destroyer novels on which the movie was based.
- A significant setpiece within the film takes place at the Statue of Liberty, which was surrounded by scaffolding for its restoration during this period.
- Although the Statue of Liberty was undergoing renovation in preparation for its centennial when the film was made, the filmmakers shot on and around the actual statue and its scaffolding as well as on a full-sized replica (from just below Liberty's book to the top of her torch) which was constructed in Mexico City. Because of weather and scheduling, the sequence required additional photography during the summer following the original mid-December (New York) and late-February (Mexico) shoots. Two different locations photographed during three separate time periods illustrates the value of storyboards and thorough pre-visualization.
- Joel Grey was offered the role of Chiun several times before accepting it, but kept turning it down because he didn't think he was the right kind of actor for the part. Moreover, Grey had no previous martial-arts experience (and received no such training for the movie once he was cast). What changed Grey's mind was a meeting with Carl Fullerton, the film's make-up artist. Grey said that if he could successfully be made to look like an 80-year-old Korean, he would take the job. Fullerton gave the task his best shot and afterward, a private screen test was held between himself and Grey.
- The movie was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Makeup at the 58th Academy Awards but lost to Mask.
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